Outrunning the Cravings in Early Sobriety – How to Build Sober Momentum

I could feel my heart beat rising, chest tightening, feeling as if I needed to force myself to breathe. My skin crawling, mind racing… panic. If I just had one drink right now this feeling would go away, right? But I can’t. I don’t drink anymore. And the realization that I couldn’t have what I thought I needed, dug into me like a sword. I have to run away, I thought. Run!!!! And so I did. I ran as fast as I could down the street. I ran as if my life depended on it… as if I was being chased, and in some way, I really was… I was being chased by the craving. I just kept running and couldn’t stop for the fear that I wouldn’t be strong enough to fight the urge.

A body in motion stays in motion.

I suddenly I found myself completely aware of my body in time and space. I could feel my feet hitting the pavement in a rhythmic thud. My breathe was deep and steady, heart pumping, blood flowing, arms and legs moving back and forth. I couldn’t even think about the craving, that just a few moments ago, threatened to kick me back in the trenches of my addiction… I was out of my head and completely in my body. In this moment right here and now, I was in control.

As the weeks went on, and more cravings showed up, I remembered that run. That dualistic feeling of both freedom and control. Whenever I would start to feel the panic setting in… my whole body would scream at me; NO! Just MOVE.

And so I would.

Some days this movement was simply walking. Others, it was picking a spot in my house to focus on; moving furniture, reorganizing, sweeping, dusting, cleaning! I would go straight to my sink and scrub my dishes and wipe them dry. I would grab my mixing bowls and bake or I would gently grind my herbs to prepare tea. I started to wake in the morning and immediately make my bed, brush my teeth and wash my face. I would grab a pen and move my thoughts from my head to the paper… creating space in my mind! I began lifting weights most days and stretching most nights. I got on a bike for the first time in years and rode down the trails over and over again. I bought a trampoline for me and my kids to bounce on every single day. When the cold weather rolled in and the snow began to fall, I pushed through my fears and strapped into a snowboard for the first time. I bought new snow pants and wool socks, bundled up and walked through the snowy trails… stopping to build snowmen with my kids and throw a couple snowballs around. I would hop in the car and just drive… nowhere to go but anywhere to explore.

I found a way to move, somehow, someway, every day. The more I moved, the better I felt. The anxiety and panic I once was feeling so often, showed up less and when it did begin to crush me under its weight, it was now easier to navigate through.

woman in motion keeps the sober momentum building

What I’ve come to realize is that in order for me to move through some emotions and feelings, I must actually psychically move. Once in motion, I’ll stay in motion. Staying in motion keeps the sober momentum building, strengthens and reinforces it. Our bodies are our energy receptors… constantly recognizing stressors, dangers and sending us into fight or flight responses; signals we can not ignore. Frustration, anxiety, anger, stress, worry, and fear are all feelings that can get trapped within our bodies and minds when we are stagnant. They get buried and build up over time until they eventually seep into everything we say and do. We lose control and these feelings take the driver seat. But….If we are active in recognizing these feelings, active in moving through them, transmuting them, we can release them and regain control.

I am 17 months sober this month. I am 31 years old. I am a working, single mom of two and this is the best I’ve felt my whole entire life. The sober momentum I’ve created has been in part to my dedication to movement in all areas of my life. I’ve learned to pivot and redirect when things aren’t working out and that is because I’m constantly in MOTION. I’m moving through feelings, emotions and problems, while always staying present and deeply rooted in my body.

I don’t get cravings for alcohol very often anymore, but I do feel all the feelings that used to lead to cravings. When I feel these things, I now know, it’s time to get moving.

Let’s all build some sober momentum this month. Whether you have just made the decision to stop drinking or you’ve been walking this path for a while, it doesn’t matter! Every day we can decide and commit to move in some way. Experiment and find what feels the best in your body…. gets you out of your head and connected to yourself. It doesn’t have to be some extreme exercise regimen, it could be as simple as I started out; making my bed every morning, or doing a couple jumping jacks when I started to feel agitated and a craving crept in. Just get moving!

A body in motion stays in motion and momentum builds the longer we stick with it! 

More by this author :

Breaking Free of Cravings for Alcohol with Mindfulness

Surrender and Empower – Emotional Sobriety

6 Months Sober – Self Discipline as Self Care

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